ELMA — Hoquiam’s weekly highlight reel was on full display at Elma’s homecoming on Friday.
Paul Girts broke a 72-yard touchdown run on his team’s first play from scrimmage and Nolan Hoiness rushed for 216 yards and four touchdowns as the unbeaten Grizzlies thumped the Eagles, 54-7, in an Evergreen 1A League football game at Davis Field.
Aside from a kneel-down at the end of the first half, the fifth-ranked Grizzlies (3-0, 6-0) scored on their first eight possessions and racked up 396 yards rushing in the first half alone.
The offensive line of Jaycob Guined, Dakota Boone, Joel Brydon, Ronnie Espedal, Alex Munoz and Cole Smith opened extensive holes for the speedy Grizzly running backs throughout. Hoiness and Girts took full advantage of the openings.
Hoiness had an apparent 80-yard TD run wiped out by a block-in-the-back penalty. He scored moments later, however, on a 44-yard run.
The senior running back also had scoring runs of 9, 24 and 17 yards — zig-zagging across the field on the latter two.
Girts also cracked the 100-yard barrier, amassing 101 yards on only four carries.
“I thought our execution on offense was excellent,” HHS coach Jason Ronquillo said. “I thought we executed the game plan very well tonight.”
Elma quarterback Layne Sutten passed for 194 yards and his team’s lone touchdown, but the Eagles were unable to finish off several promising drives. Sutten was sacked five times and intercepted twice.
“They’re a good football team and we’re not,” Elma coach Jim Hill summarized. “We’re going to get better. We’ve got things we’ve got to deal with.”
A large overflow crowd was still filing in when Hoquiam opened the scoring. After forcing the Eagles into a three-and-out on the opening series, the Grizzlies took over on their own 28-yard line.
Girts burst over right guard, got to the outside and was gone. The Grizzly senior was hit near the goal line, but tumbled over the pylon for a touchdown with the game only 83 seconds old. Evan Erickson kicked the first of six successful conversions.
Senior quarterback Erickson sandwiched three completions around a 20-yard Hoiness run on Hoquiam’s next scoring drive. Erickson rolled to the right and found tight end Smith in the end zone on a 9-yard scoring strike.
Two Hoiness TD runs, of 44 and 9 yards, and a pair of Erickson conversions closed out the first quarter scoring.
Espedal, shifted into the power-running formation introduced in last week’s victory over Castle Rock, scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter. Hoiness added a 24-yard TD jaunt and Girts a 17-yard scoring run in that quarter.
Elma scored with 16 seconds remaining in the first half when Sutten found Todd Swinhart on an 11-yard corner route. Reynaldo Ayala kicked the conversion.
That reduced the halftime deficit to 48-7, but the state-mandated running clock rule was implemented for the second half.
Hoiness’ 17-yard scoring run on the third play of the second half represented the swan song of Hoquiam’s first offensive unit.
Ronquillo cited Girts and Guined for fine defensive play.
The Grizzlies venture out of Grays Harbor County for the only time during the regular season next Friday when they travel to Rainier. The Eagles travel to Ilwaco for a non-leaguer the same night.